Texas 175: A Dozen Documents That Made a Difference

Historians still debate Sam Houston's strategy in taking the Texan army on a retreat eastward towards Louisiana rather than engaging immediately with Santa Anna's troops after the Battle of the Alamo. Some observers would never forgive what they considered cowardice, but Houston was determined not to fight the enemy unless he thought he could win.

On April 19, 1836, Sam Houston made notes of his plans to meet Santa Anna on the battlefield. This document is one of several copies Houston made and sent to various friends for safekeeping in case he did not survive the battle.

Two days later, on April 21, 1836, Houston turned his army south and took on the hated forces of Santa Anna. The result was a total rout of the Mexican army.

Sam Houston's Notes Before San Jacinto, April 19, 1836

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Sam Houston's Notes from San Jacinto, 1836

Copy  

Camp at Harrisburgh
19th April 1836  

This morning we are in preparation to
meet Sant Ana [Santa Anna]. It is the only chance of
saving Texas. From time to time I have looked
for re-inforcements in vain. The Convention ad-
journing to Harrisburgh struck panic throughout
the country. Texas could have started at least
4000 men; we will only have about 700 to
march with beside the Camp Guard. We
go to conquer. It is wisdom growing out
of necessity to meet and fight the enemy
now. Every consideration enforces it. No pre-
vious occasion would justify it. The troops
are in fine spirits, and now is the time for
action.  

My Adjt Genl Wharton, Inspr Genl Hock-
ley Aid [sic] de Camp Horton
“           “     “    W.H. Patton
“           “     “     Collingsworth
Volunteer Aid [sic] Cerry
“        “           Perry
Maj. Cook Asst Inspr Genl will be with
me.  

We will use our best efforts to fight
the enemy to such advantage, as will insure [sic]
victory, tho’ the odds is greatly against us.
I leave the result in the hands of a wise God
and rely upon his Providence.  

My country will do justice to those
who serve her. The rights for which we fight
will be secured, and Texas Free.  

Saml Houston
Comr in Chief  

Col. Rusk is in the field.

Houston

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Sam Houston notes, April 19, 1836. Andrew Jackson Houston Papers #390, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Page last modified: August 25, 2011